If you have yet to visit TURF, the art pavilion created by IDADA (the
Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association) at
If you have yet to visit TURF,
the art pavilion created by the Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association
Downtown Artists and Dealers Associationat the old city hall building on
Alabama Street, stop procrastinating. Go!
are plenty of things to love about TURF. But, first of all, credit is due Mark Ruschman
Ruschmanand the IDADA team responsible for
coming up with the TURF concept and then realizing it so fully. If, in some
cockamamie way, we have the Super Bowl
Bowlto thank for this energizing bit of civic inspiration, so be it.
Rarely has the pursuit of pigskin been put to better use.
on your vintage, you may know the old city hall building as the former Indiana State Museum
State Museum. I remember going there on Saturdays with my son. We were
hypnotized by the graceful to-and-fro of the Foucault Pendulum, awed by the
size of Pacer Rik Smits' feet imprinted on the museum floor and thrilled (in a
campy way) by the life-size diorama of prehistoric hunters closing in on a
wooly mammoth, haplessly wallowing in a frigid swamp.
the State Museum decamped for new, swankier quarters in White River State Park
River State Park. The old city hall was abandoned. Then, when the Central
Library underwent its expansion, library services found a temporary home there.
in 1910, the old city hall has the feel of a four-story mausoleum. It's built
of limestone and fitted with Roman Doric columns. Step into the building's
great rotunda and you're almost guaranteed to say, "They don't make 'em like this anymore!"
2008, when the library left for its new and improved digs, old city hall has
stood empty, a great, gray pile in need of a little love. In a city that has
thoughtlessly demolished a large portion of its historic architecture over the
years, this has been a cause for concern. Surely some use could be found for
this stately antique.
is where IDADA comes in. As reported by Scott Shoger in NUVO's Jan. 11
issue, it was Jason Zickler
Zicklerwho had the idea of using the old city
hall for a large-scale exhibition of installation art to coincide with the
Super Bowl. When the IDADA team actually toured the building, they knew they'd
found the perfect site.
not exactly sure why, but I know that nothing serves contemporary art so well
as an historic setting. Put contemporary work in a bright, white modern box and
it hums. But when you find it in a place that was built long ago, by people
whose only link to present tastes and concerns was their sense of ambition, new
art is so vivid it practically snaps when you look at it.
the way the TURF show
TURF showfeels. This is due, of course, to the fact that the works on view
are almost always interesting and, in many cases, downright extraordinary.
Every one of the 23 participating artists/groups has a room of their own, and
the afternoon we visited, there was a steady stream of visitors, including many
families. As we explored the galleries on the first and second floors and
checked out the Skyline Club cafŽ, it was hard not to be overcome by how
pleasurable it was to finally have an authoritative art center downtown.
Downtown already has a number of galleries and the Artsgarden. But none of
these have the heft and scope, the sense of destination that TURF brings.
is the most palpable reminder yet that our downtown has many things, but one
asset it sorely lacks is a truly public cultural center, a place where citizens
of all ages and backgrounds can go for arts and cultural experiences. While
TURF is all about the experiential qualities of the visual arts, it's not hard
to imagine the old city hall being able to accommodate a range of activities
that might include small ensemble chamber music performances, film screenings,
and live black box-style theater, not to mention rehearsal and public meeting
while we're at it, why not commission Kipp Normand, whose "Fanfare for Mayor Charles Bookwalter" installation, recalling the politician
whose vision led to creation of the city hall building is a TURF highlight, to
create a permanent exhibit for visitors on the history and folklore of Indianapolis?
center like this would provide the burgeoning numbers of downtown residents and
other citizens with a variety of free cultural opportunities that would, in
turn, spark greater synergies with such existing arts resources as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Repertory Theatre at the Columbia Club
Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis
Repertory Theatreand Cabaret
at the Columbia Club. It would also create a dynamic focus of activity
linking downtown with the Mass Ave
using the old city hall for creation of a downtown cultural center would
revitalize an important part of the city's architectural and civic history. I
can't think of a more solid cornerstone upon which to imagine what comes next
runs through Feb. 5 and is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Admission is